CBS6 Investigates: Sex offenders placed in homes for seniors and the disabled
From nursing homes, to state-operated homes for the disabled, violent sex offenders have local group homes listed as their home address, and residents have no idea.
The New York Sex Offender Registry indicates a 58-year-old sex offender, who served his time after he was convicted of sexually abusing a 9-year-old girl, is now living at a Clifton Park group home on Lapp Road operated by the NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities.
“It's a predators dream, they can pray on the most vulnerable, and then you have a system that's all about hiding what's happening from the general public and the families,” Michael Carey said.
Michael Carey oversees the Jonathan Carey Foundation, an advocacy group for the disabled. The foundation is named after his developmentally disabled son who was killed by a care worker in 2007.
His team has spent weeks examining the sex offender registry. Far from done, they've already found 80 sex offenders who list a group home as their primary residence. He says mixing sex offenders in with disabled patients is a recipe for sexual assault.
“Many of them can absolutely never tell their parents because they're non-verbal. This is an emergency situation, this is something the governor should be immediately putting a stop to. It’s beyond outrageous, it's unconscionable and it's also illegal,” Carey said.
Carey believes knowingly placing a sex offender in the same home as a disabled patient is a violation of the state law, Endangering the welfare of a disabled person, and also puts care staff at risk.
“There are no cameras, and the staff aren't properly trained,” Carey said.
CBS6’s Anne McCloy visited a group home on Curry Road in Schenectady operated by the NYS Office of Mental Health. The sex offender registry lists a 26-year-old man, convicted of incest in 2015, as a resident.
A woman who appeared to be a care worker, answered the door.
Anne: Do you know that there's a sex offender living here?
Staffer: Oh, I’m sorry I can’t comment on anything here.
The other patients living in the home likely don't even know they're in the same house as a sex offender. We’re told the state can’t notify them because of healthcare privacy laws.
Senior care homes are no exception. Fawn Ridge Senior Living in Troy is listed as a sex offender’s address, as is Troy Adult Home.
Anne: There's a sex offender that apparently lives here.
Family member: Oh really?
Anne: Did you know that?
Family member: No, I have a great uncle that lives here, no kidding.
Senator Kathy Marchione (R, C, IP) Halfmoon is among a group of lawmakers trying to do something about it.
“I don't want my mom or dad placed with a sex offender, I just don't,” Marchione said.
She says legislation working to outlaw sex offenders in group homes has continuously failed in the NYS Assembly since 2014.
“If we have developmentally disabled sex offenders then perhaps they need to be placed in a home together, and there needs to be a model created to make sure there's enough supervision for those people in that home, but they shouldn't be able to be placed in group home,” Marchione said.
CBS6 contacted three state agencies that oversee group homes with a list of questions regarding placement and safety involving sex offenders.
None of them responded to our request for an on-camera interview.
CBS6’s Anne McCloy paid them a visit. A spokesperson for the Office of Mental Health came down, but would not come out from behind the security gate.
Anne: Can you come out here and talk to me?
Spokesperson: Not right now unfortunately
Spokesperson: Because we're working on the responses for your questions.
I also showed up to speak with Acting Commissioner Kerry Delaney at the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities.
Anne: Is the commissioner available to speak with us?
Staffer: Not at this time
Anne: Will she make herself available to speak with us?
Staffer: Not at this time
The offices (OPWDD, DOH, OMH) eventually released to us this joint statement:
"Residential facilities in New York State adhere to state and federal laws and regulations which are in place to ensure quality of care and the safety of all residents and the community. Our agencies are currently reviewing long-standing practices of supporting people with histories of court involvement to ensure that these people and others who receive services continue to be appropriately and safely supported.”
But none of our questions was answered directly.
“This is basically ignoring the safety and equal rights of the absolute most vulnerable,” Carey said.
Because the state won't answer the question, it's impossible to know just how many of the state's 7,000 group homes, are housing sex offenders. In addition, there are 623 nursing homes and 403 adult homes in New York, the state did not provide numbers for.
Even if you looked up the profile for each of the 40,966 sex offenders on the registry, you can't always tell if the address listed is a group home.
The Jonathan Carey foundation believes the number of sex offenders living in group homes is in the hundreds or thousands.